Election 2010: An Opening in Illinois?

John Hanlon

2/4/2010 2:00:00 AM - John Hanlon

On Tuesday, the contentious Illinois Democratic Senatorial primary for the seat once held by President Barack Obama ended in a victory for treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. According to numerous news reports, those primary results may present an opening for Republicans to take that seat back this November.

In a New York Times article entitled "Illinois Senate Race Worries Dems Anew", the author wrote about how the primary results may spell trouble for the Democratic nominee this November. The article noted the following:

With four others on the ballot, Mr. [Alexi] Giannoulias won 39 percent of the Democratic vote... A little-known former federal prosecutor who had never run for office, David Hoffman, came within six percentage points of Mr. Giannoulias.

With much on the line here, including the symbolism of the president’s home state possibly slipping away, some Democrats were concerned that the party had played into the game plan of the Republicans, who chose Representative Mark Steven Kirk, a centrist-leaning suburbanite who hopes to appeal to the state’s independent voters and even some moderate Democrats.

A Hill article also noted that the Democratic nominee "comes equipped with a spotty record — under his watch, parents who put money into a college savings account lost as much as half of it — and ties to a family bank currently in meltdown and in the headlines." That article concludes by noting that "In Giannoulias, Kirk has been given a gift that will keep on giving, every day from today until the all-important midterms next November."

It is still too early to know if this will become a truly competitive race in the long run but for now, Republicans should look at this Senatorial race with much optimism about a potential Democratic seat swinging into Republican hands. President Obama will likely campaign for the Democratic candidate but if Republicans can maintain momentum in this race (like they did in Massachusetts), they have a solid chance of winning this race.